A Gardening Year

The adventures and misadventures of an heirloom gardener

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Green Thumb Sunday


Sign in the Display Greenhouse at Deep Cut Gardens

Just in case you were wondering how to pronounce it.

Gardeners, Plant and Nature lovers can join in every Sunday, visit As the Garden Grows for more information.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Straw Hats go to Deep Cut Gardens

Deep Cut Gardens, located in Middletown, NJ, were commissioned by Vito Genovese to be reminiscent of his birthplace in Naples, Italy. The gardens are a mixture of English and Italian styles. Work on the gardens was ended prematurely when Genovese left the country and the house burned down. The property passed through a series of owners before being willed to the Monmouth County Park System. The 54 acres of gardens and greenhouses are planned as a living catalog of cultivated and native plants to be observed through the seasons.

Between the parking lot and the Horticultural Center (a house that was built to replace the one that burned down) is a lovely lily pond filled koi of all sizes including enormous ones similar to the fish we saw at the Chinese Scholar’s Garden last year.

Surrounding the Horticultural Center are pretty little gardens.

The building rests on a hill. The main gardens descend the hill along a stone staircase with incredible trees and cascading pools.

A special feature that Genovese insisted upon, is the Mt. Vesuvius rockery.

A fire is built inside and the smoke coming out of the top is supposed to make it look like Mt. Vesuvius.

At the bottom of the hill is the parterre Rose Garden, currently undergoing renovation.

At the far end of it, barely visible under the vegetation is a round pergola.

We doubled back and strolled through the Shade Garden.

On our way to the Display Greenhouse, we passed the Bonsai Display.

Inside the greenhouse were more bonsai as well as cacti and succulents.

In the next room were orchids and other tropical plants.

Outside of the greenhouse is a Japanese themed garden filled with plants from that island nation.

I especially liked this shrub.

Another short walk brought us to the Display Garden featuring AAS winners.

Behind the Display Garden is a production greenhouse, a shadehouse and a compost demo area.

Then it was back to the van for a quick lunch and then off to our next destination, Barlow Flower Farm in Sea Girt.

More pictures of our trip to Deep Cut Gardens can be seen on Flickr.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Weirdness Chronicles 2007 - Chapter 9

This is one very confused primrose. We had a brief cold spell, followed by warmer than normal temperatures. Apparently this poor plant thought that winter had come and gone and it is spring again. Would anyone care to volunteer to be the one to break the bad news that it is autumn, not spring?

Another First Bloom

The New England aster (Aster novae-angliae ‘Purple dome’) that I bought at Well Sweep Herb Farm is blooming. Unlike the Prince Henry anemone, this aster developed its buds after I planted it. According to Well Sweep’s catalog, it is supposed to grow to 2’ (61 cm) high but the ones I saw at Willowwood were much taller.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Willowwood Arboretum and Bamboo Brook

Willowwood Arboretum in Chester, New Jersey had their annual Open House today. I was fortunate to be able to attend with a Morris County Master Gardener who volunteers there. Willowwood was an estate of 130 acres owned by two brothers who were avid gardeners and plant collectors. Many of the 3500 kinds of native and exotic plants and trees were planted by them after they bought the property in 1908.

My first glimpse of the estate was the barn which is now a visitor’s center.

The arbor was especially striking.

The vines of the Japanese wisteria that covers it have grown so thick that they appear to be a part of the arbor.

After an introductory slide show in the visitor’s center, our first tour was the Autumn Ornamentals, trees and shrubs for fall. I must confess that trees do not particularly interest me except when they have interesting bark or structure.

Our second tour of the day was of the gardens. We started in the shade garden.

Then it was on to Pan’s Garden which is a narrow formal garden meant to be viewed from a covered porch. It was difficult to photograph because of the number of people on the tour and the narrow walkways. From there we entered Woodwalk.

The brothers did a lot of their collecting in Japan. Woodwalk reflects this.

This bridge . . .

. . . is composed of stepping stones over the brook.

The path led us to a meadow full of wildflowers. I saw the asters that I had bought at Well Sweep Herb and realized that I will have to move them. They will be much too large for the border in which they are planted.

Our last stop was the Cottage Garden located in front of the house.

Beyond the cottage garden was this:

Right next door to Willowwood is Bamboo Brook, an estate originally owned by William and Martha Brookes Hutcheson. Mrs. Hutcheson was one of the first female landscape architects in the nation. Bamboo Brook is still being renovated by the Morris County Parks Commission.

The formal gardens have been finished while the ponds and their associated gardens are still being cleared of years of overgrowth.

If you enlarge the picture below, you can see in the background how the ponds have to be literally excavated, much like an archeological dig.

The tennis court:

I loved this little shed.

It is anticipated that renovation of the ponds and their gardens will be finished next year. I would love to be able to come back here with the Straw Hats for another tour then.

More photos of our visit to Willowwood Arboretum and Bamboo Brook can be seen on Flickr.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Quick Trip to Rutgers Gardens

I made a quick trip to Rutgers Gardens today to donate the pineapple sage from my hummingbird garden. We took cuttings from it to be wintered over in the greenhouse and then sold at the Spring Flower Fair next May. It hadn’t done well in my yard, so rather than just let it die over the winter, I wanted to put it to good use.

I’ve always been a big fan of cosmos. If I had the space and the sunlight in my own yard, I would love to do something like this:

Rutger, the Gardens cat, followed me everywhere.

He knows that I always carry treats.

Please, may I have another one?

I continue to admire the “weeds” around the parking lot of Holly House.

Today I noticed thistle blooming.

Since the creation of the Garden Guardian Program, I stop by the entry kiosk frequently to admire the garden that is now so meticulously kept.

Can you believe it is September? Most gardens are losing their luster, but this one is still gorgeous.

My favorite wall is looking better than ever.

This year, it is more integrated into the overall design of the garden.

It's hard to believe that fall has arrived.